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Design, research and innovation

The instruments made by Martino Quintavalla feature several innovative elements that are often invisible but can be noticed as soon as the instrument is played. These details come from a long research in musical acoustics and materials engineering.

The research career of Martino Quintavalla began several years ago during academia, with the study of materials properties and is still going on in the field of lutherie and musical acoustics in the framework of research projects and collaborations with other luthiers and researchers.

Design and build

These are some of the features that characterize the design and realization of my instruments:

Acoustic, modal and accelerometric analyses are powerful instruments that allow to understand the principle of operation of musical instruments and which are the “ingredients” that make them unique. Once these aspects are fully understood, it is possible to reproduce them in modern instruments and eventually improve or modify them to suit the needs of the musicians. 

The materials used to build instruments are fully characterized in terms of acoustic performance. After being characterized, the best pieces are selected to build the instruments.

Thanks to the materials characterization, the soundboard thickness is univocally determined for every single piece of wood of each instrument, allowing for a reliable result and the maximum acoustic throughput.

The use of both traditional and composite materials (such as carbon fibre) allows me to push the design towards more efficient instruments without sacrifying the long term reliability.

The experience gathered during academia allows me to rely on simulations and measurements to verify each step during manufacturing and highlight the critical aspects to assess in order to achieve the desired result.


An uniterrupted research activity is fundamental to realize contemporary instruments where aesthetics, acoustic efficiency and reliability can coexist.

During his career, Martino Quintavalla carried on both academic and independent research in musical instruments acoustics and now collaborates with the Departement of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering at Politecnico di Milano for the acoustic and materials characterization of musical instruments.

One of the main research project I have took part in, was founded by the World Wood Day Foundation, a foundation that promotes wood culture and all its aspects.

During 2019 I was awarded a research grant for the project “Choice of wood in musical instruments: Italian Red Spruce and traditional mandolins“.

Together with master luthier Federico Gabrielli and Claudio Canevari, researcher and teacher at Civica Scuola di Liuteria di Milano, I had the opportunity to characterize red spruce mechanical and acoustical properties as well as old and contemperary mandolins to determine the link between wood properties, building techniques and sound.

This project, which is still going on, is carried out with the collaboraion of musicians, luthiers and researchers.

Thanks to sophisticated anlaysis techniques, allowed o understand many aspects, some of which were sometimes very subtle, and apply them to the construction of innovatieve instruments.


Grading materials for stringed instruments soundboards: An approach considering the orthotropic elastic and damping properties

In this study we investigate how to determine wheter wood or other materials are suitable for the realization of stringed instruments soundboard by taking into account their anisotropic elastic and damping properties. The results obtained are useful to understand how to design composite matierials for this purpose and the influence of wood ring growth on the sound properties.

Published on Applied Acoustics (2021)

The Acoustics of Traditional Italian Mandolins and Their Relation with Soundboard Wood Properties 

Mandolin is an ancient, yet not very studied instrument. Tradional Italian mandolins acoustics especially, was never considered. In this article we have analysed the acoustics of several old and contemporary mandolins to get some interesting insights regarding the timbre and its variability. By means of simulations, we have established a correlation between wood properties and acoustic properties of the instrument.

 Published on International Journal of Wood Culture (2022)